Thursday 18 Apr 2024

UK Goan hospitality specialist invited to Goan International Travel Mart

LUI GODINHO | MARCH 22, 2024, 10:42 PM IST

LONDON

A Goan hospitality specialist has been given a rare privilege to return to the land of his roots as part of a global delegation at the Goa International Travel Mart (GITM) hosted by Goa Tourism.

Antonio Fernandes, who hails from Colva, is co-founder of A&G Event Experts, a premier events management company in the UK and has been involved in hospitality across three continents.

Antonio, a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality (FIH), and his partner, Gabriel Fernandes, a chartered accountant, have won acclaim for their services in the UK, Portugal and France. Incidentally, A&G Event Experts had won the prestigious ‘Lux Best Fairytale Wedding Planner 2024 - West London’.

Antonio, who will be part of a global delegation to interact with stakeholders at the GITM in Goa on April 3 and 4, was pleased to have been specially invited to the meet.

“Many from the industry here in London were pleasantly surprised that I had been invited from the UK to participate in this high-profile event in Goa. I had been recommended by UK buyers connected to tourism officials in India,” said Antonio.

“What is really great at the moment is that Goa Tourism is encouraging heritage and eco-tourism, and they have a great and professional team to make this happen.”

BACKGROUND

Antonio began his love for the hospitality and catering industry not in the UK or even in Goa, but in Uganda in East Africa.

“As a school student in Uganda, my aunt worked for the Grand Hotel, which was the leading hotel at the time. I was in awe every time I was there, just watching the surroundings, and I knew that I had to be in the hospitality industry,” recalls Antonio.

Antonio subsequently returned to Goa and completed his bachelor’s degree in commerce and went on to secure a first class from Institute of Hotel Management in Mumbai. He worked for La Paz Gardens in Vasco and Ramada Renaissance in Varca, as well as domestic and international in-flight catering services, gaining valuable experience in the industry.

BUSINESS

Commenting on the business, Antonio said A&G Event Experts plans events, weddings, corporate hospitality in the UK, Portugal, the Czeck Republic, Spain, France and Goa.

“Our company started only in 2018 but has already gained a strong reputation especially within the luxury hospitality market,” said Antonio.

“Also, as Goans showcasing to the world, we can be as good as anyone as we have an IATA TIDS (International Air Transport Association Travel Industry Designator Service) number and are corporate members of both TAP Air Portugal and Eurostar, two international key areas of our business in Portugal, Spain and France.”

Besides events management, A&G Event Experts have also set up the ‘Snack Hack’, a Goan kitchen with a 5-star rating by the local council in London, which is being run by Gabriel Fernandes and his wife Noemia in Hounslow UK.

“One of our key elements is that we have access to global cuisines, both traditional and fine dining. But although this is our core business, we always encourage and promote Goan cuisine with Portuguese influence to the highest level. Hence, we initiated ‘Snack Hack’.”

‘Snack Hack’ started as a Goan snack takeaway during Covid lockdown. The initial idea was to produce Goan snacks like Rissóis, sandwiches, croquettes, Sannas, patties, etc.

‘Snack Hack’ now specialises in snacks plus curry dishes like Sorpatel, Vindaloo, Aad Mass, Pork Solantulem, Xacuti, beef roast, Beef Roulade, fish mayonnaise, Pulao plus Indo-Chinese food.

“The next plan is to upmarket the kitchen using Goan cuisine with Portuguese influence with fine dining plating concepts and plans are in place to showcase this at high-end and luxury properties in London,” said Antonio.

GOAN IDENTITY

Antonio has been involved in different activities in Goa for several decades.

As a youth, Antonio represented Goa in hockey, and he was also in the forefront to promote initiatives in his native Colva village.

“I was co-founder of the Colva Junior Chamber, which was among the first village chapters in Goa, and we went on to win many international awards,” said Antonio.

“While in the UK, I have closely involved in the Colva Union UK, an association of people who trace their roots to Colva.”

“I have been keen to promote Goa and Goan culture in every possible way. We have been supporting senior Goan hospitality professionals in promoting Goa at travel marts all over world and I thank the award-winning SKAL Goa for always inviting me to their networking events when in Goa.”

Antonio has served as past chair of Both London and International Development Group and past board member of Institute of Hospitality, the biggest body of professional hospitality managers worldwide. He was also involved in the formation of the Institute of Hospitality, Goa Branch.

Asked for his advice to young Goans, Antonio replied: “I would advise them not only to work hard but work smart. They must first strengthen their core skills like cookery, bakery, service, and take steps to develop their management, leadership and strategic skills to not only grow in the corporate but also the business world.”

“Be humble, respectful and at all times, be professional. Most Goans have taken big strides in reaching high levels in this industry and the next generation must continue this trend and be even better.”




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